Opening up on the other side of the world is Panama, according to Jean Johnson, CMP, president and CEO of M&I in Caledonia, Wisc. A combination of new incentive-caliber properties (flags include Westin, Waldorf Astoria, JW Marriott, and Trump), a variety of off-property venues and activities, a strong infrastructure, and a downtown that is “oozing with history, great shopping, dining, and night life” have put it on the incentive map for Johnson, who has brought four meetings there in the past year, two of which were incentive meetings.
Panama is also an easy transition for U.S. groups, she says, because the currency is equivalent to the U.S. dollar and English is the widely used second language. It also offers all visitors free medical insurance in the case of an emergency during the first 30 days of their stay—an uncommon initiative created to encourage tourism.
An interesting fact and popular activity, according to Johnson, is that visitors can see the sun rise on the Pacific and set on the Atlantic at the same time. “It’s the only place in the world where this is possible, and only at the ‘S’ curve in the country where the Atlantic Coast is actually west of the Pacific Coast.”